Pharrell to Open Private Schools in Virginia for Low-Income Families

Pharrell Williams’ philanthropic arm is once again giving back to his home state of Virginia. According to The Virginian-Pilot, the Grammy Award-winning artist’s nonprofit Yellow plans on opening a small fleet of private schools for students from low-income families.

“If the system is fixed and unfair, then it needs to be broken,” Pharrell said in a statement. “We don’t want lockstep learning where so many kids fall behind; we want bespoke learning designed for each child, where the things that make a child different are the same things that will make a child rise up and take flight.”


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Pharrell reportedly chose Norfolk for the site of the first school because of housing segregation and the city’s plans to redevelop three public housing communities through its billion-dollar St. Paul’s redevelopment, which has displaced families across the area. So far, the majority of families who’ve left public housing have ended up in racially and economically segregated neighborhoods zoned for racially and economically segregated public schools.

The school’s curriculum will give priority to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) and will look to open a middle school next year as well as other schools. The first school opens on September 7.

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